3 Things Restaurants Should Consider
Like any business, restaurants often invest in marketing software to help reach more customers across multiple channels (like email or SMS), and to automate routine tasks at scale.
That software is called a Marketing Automation Platform (MAP), and it’s one of the most important components of a marketing, sales and customer-experience technology stack. It’s the tech that brings customers closer to the brand, and directly affects how your business can attract, engage and retain a loyal following.
Choosing a MAP that your team can depend on is critical. And switching platforms is a daunting challenge.
Here are three things that restaurants should consider to empower their decision to move to a new MAP.
1. Ask the Right Questions
It’s an obvious start. Why switch platforms in the first place?
- Has your business outgrown its existing platform?
- Is there functionality you’re not getting?
- Are there too few or too many features?
- Do you receive reliable support?
- Is the system under-performing?
- Is a low-cost or free ‘off-the-shelf’ solution not providing enough value or scaling with your ambitions?
- Is your current MAP cost-prohibitive?
Not every answer will lead to the conclusion that you should switch. For example, if functionality is an issue, consider if there is a workaround that might be more cost-effective than switching to something new.
But also consider that a workaround may not be sustainable over time; it may be a quick fix that lets you delay switching platforms, but may also require too many ancillary resources that can’t scale with your business over time.
Asking these questions helps you identify the pain points baked into your marketing ops.
As you begin to consider new solutions, make sure they solve for all your conundrums — talk to a new provider’s sales and onboarding specialists and make your issues the main focus of your courtship — insist they understand your issues, and ask them to demonstrate how the new platform (or associated service) can address them.
In the course of your discovery, you will also identify the critical, valued features you get from your existing MAP, and you will want to ensure they carry over to a new one.
2. Set Measurable, Attainable Goals
Whether you’re setting up a MAP for the first time, or moving on from a legacy system, it’s essential to determine your future sales and marketing goals.
To ensure the MAP will scale, define how you want to use the platform in the years ahead. What are you hoping to achieve, and how quickly does that need to happen? Will it sustain your forecasted growth for the next 24, 48 or 72 months?
As you’re mapping out goals, timetables and responsibilities, it’s essential to have all the stakeholders in at the beginning. This is how you avoid project creep and operational surprises.
Concerning timelines, how quickly does the new system need to be operational? Which features do you need to bring online first? Can some be turned on over time?
For example, if you have plans to notify your customers of an upcoming event or a menu change, that communication can be the test balloon for getting your system up and running, and you can use the performance of that announcement as a benchmark for future outreach.
After doing some serious goal-setting, you may discover you don’t need as comprehensive an automation platform as you first imagined. If the scope of automation is limited to a narrow set of marketing parameters (perhaps because you have separate solutions for different tasks), then maybe you don’t have to overspend on a MAP with features you don’t need.
Because technology is always improving and restaurants need every advantage with limited resources, the opposite is more often the case. The larger the operation, the more likely a company will migrate multiple functions and operations onto a single platform, reducing the number of software solutions; gaining economies of scale; and centralizing preferences, user management and reporting.
3. Make Your Move
You’ve asked the right questions and set realistic and attainable goals for your entire team. Now what?
Understanding your tech stack is essential. Ask how the migration may affect the many other systems and software currently integrated with your current provider. Will all the additional components (like apps, software, other solutions) still run smoothly with your new platform?
Thinking about this, it’s useful to make a plan for implementation — and a rapid response plan if something doesn’t work quite right.
Also consider what you will be keeping from your existing platform.
It’s helpful to have a period when you run both MAPs at once — so before you sunset the existing one, you retain access to your existing critical data, and the tools you’ll need if the new MAP doesn’t stand up as quickly or as completely as you planned.
Export your data, including client lists, templates, landing pages, forms, setting and reports.
Set your new system to operate at the same cadence as the previous one. Your bosses and co-workers make decisions that depend on routine information about KPIs, ROAS, etc. So save those preferences and integrate them so your new platform doesn’t become an operational blocker.
Once the new MAP is working you can retire the old one.
Use the migration to clean up your data — duplicates, poorly-formatted entries, recent bounced emails — all of this should be updated so your new MAP is being powered by the most accurate, high-performing data available.
As you weigh the reasons and consequences of switching providers, consider these two last essential questions:
- What is the cost to switch?
- What’s my internal investment (like training, tech upgrades, adoption, etc.)?
Most reputable MAPs for restaurants will have flexible pricing plans, often geared toward their ideal clients. The issue of cost then becomes one of function. The number of features, the level of support and the size of your business are all price drivers — and the best partners can customize a solution that works for your budget.
Adoption can also be a barrier to successful implementation to a new MAP. Make a plan with admins to provide the necessary training so that end-users don’t just feel comfortable using the new platform, but consider it essential to their success.
Whether you opt to stay on your current platform or choose a new marketing partner, remember to ensure all of your critical data is stored securely. Any migration plan must include strategies to back up (and recover) the information required to keep your restaurant’s marketing operation up and running.